Sunday, July 09, 2017
Cowgirl Sass & Savvy
Living long past breathing
by Julie Carter
I’m right up there with the rest of you –stumbling and bumbling through life the best way I know how and hoping to come out on the other end a better person with at a least a few credits to my name when the Book of Life is checked.
And just when I think I am occupying only a relatively small space in the universe and moving only the air I touch, I learn that absolutely isn’t so. If you have a pulse, you have a calling that counts for something.
I’ve written my fair share of “Empty Saddles” stories to honor people that have ridden on out of this world to a better one. Some rode their last horse, threw their last loop, kissed their last baby, sipped their last coffee before accidents or illness took them without warning. I’ve written a number of these missives about people I’ve never met.
I’m not at all new to writing features about people, but the most usual and easy was when I could sit before them, hear them speak, watch them smile as they recalled their lives. Often, I was in their home where their personalities resonated from every area of their “space” with memorabilia and photos lining the walls and shelves.
But sometimes, those last words to outline their lives were written from what was said about them from people who knew and loved them deeply. Miles away, over the phone, with no face to go with the name they heard when they answered the call, these bereaved wives, sons, daughters and friends gave me words to breathe life into a remembrance of each of their dearest ones now gone.
While grief was ever present in each of their voices, so was gratitude. Across the board, those left behind were excited that their loved ones were being remembered, being honored. They were more than willing to share with the world what was wonderful, what was special, about the person they continued to mourn.
And laugh. Each one of them could and did laugh about things they knew their respective loved one would laugh about. With emotions tempered by a little time along with some necessary acceptance, their sadness was blanketed with memories of happier times.
Age, marital status, geography, occupation and financial status were not factors in the bottom line of loss. While a mother grieved over the loss of a young son in one way, the wife, sons and daughters found an equally overwhelming crevasse in their day to day lives.
What each shared was the bottomless pit of loss forced by an emptiness that could not be filled. Loss of a special grin, an easy-going personality or a dedicated driven passion for life. The worn rough hand in a touch, the sound of boot steps in the hall. Each person gone had affected many, many people in their living and perhaps by divine ordinance, affected even more in their passing.
There is no completion date to grieving, only stages. And those that have lost will do so in their own way. But the lesson in that grief comes with an understanding beyond the “ashes to ashes, dust to dust.”
We are all born, we will all die. We mattered at birth, we matter at death. But what really matters is what happens in between. It is those things that remain in the hearts and lives of those we leave behind. Those things that touched them, mattered to them, stayed with them.
It’s never too late to make a difference. My list started when I realized there are more years behind than there are ahead. When I stacked up the memories I have next to the ones I want to make, one side is a little taller than the other. But I’m not done yet. And if you are reading this, neither are you. Get to work. There are lives waiting to be touched.
Julie can be reached for comment at firstname.lastname@example.org